Jenn Ryan
Jenn Ryan
April 28, 2024 ·  3 min read

How to Super Clean Your Car’s Interior Using Only Natural Ingredients

I have to be honest here—I hate cleaning my car. It’s not that I don’t love my car. I do! I love my custom audio system and my fancy rims and my blacked out VW emblems. It’s just that keeping it clean feels like a chore all in itself. Plus, have you ever used those store-bought car cleaners? They’re awful. They smell awful and leave this weird sheen all over your dash and console.

Fortunately, there are natural ingredients we can use to make a non-toxic car cleaner that’s easy to make at home and use on your beloved vehicle.

Why Typical Car Cleaners Are Toxic

diy car cleaner, non toxic car cleaner

First, let’s take a look at that car cleaner you might have bought at Target and keep in your garage closet for those special occasions when you actually clean your car.

Meguiar’s is a brand that’s actually sold at Target and makes car care products. Their ingredients, according to one Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on their car cleaning products, include:

  • Aluminum Oxide. When inhaled, aluminum oxide can irritate your lungs, throat, and nose. It can also affect the skin and the eyes; protective gear is recommended while using it. Why would you clean your car with it if you’re not even supposed to touch it?
  • Petroleum Distillates. This mix of chemicals can also affect your lungs, throat, and nose, but they also cause nervous system dysfunction including symptoms of nausea, dizziness, headaches, and loss of coordination. They can even impact liver and kidney function and some research shows it could impact the health of female reproductive organs.
  • Although this ingredient has been shown to be safe and is even used as a food additive approved by the FDA [4], it can still cause eye irritation and shouldn’t be inhaled. I find it odd that it’s used as a food additive, as the CDC says this chemical can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if ingested [5].

To top off this specific list of ingredients, many car cleaners are artificially scented with chemicals that are known carcinogens. These chemicals can cause nervous system disorders, and autoimmune symptoms.

With all the risks of using a conventional car cleaner, why wouldn’t you make your own at home? You’ll never buy a car cleaner again once you see how easy and safe it is to have a clean car and a healthy body at the same time!

DIY Car Cleaner

non toxic car cleaner

Forget everything you buy at the store and let’s turn our attention instead onto some key ingredients. Feel free to compare these with the chemicals above.

  • A natural disinfectant, totally harmless even when consumed (unless you have a yeast allergy), and great on most surfaces and messes.
  • Lemon Juice. Lemon juice is acidic like vinegar is and can remove stains, stop odors, and kill bacteria. You can also use lemon essential oil when you don’t have fresh lemons or lemon juice on hand.
  • Castile Soap. This vegan soap is plant-based and is so versatile it can be used for everything from cleaning your toilet to washing your hair. A great brand to try is Bronner’s.

These seem to be less harmful than the first set of ingredients, right? So let’s look at how to make a hefty car cleaner out of them.

Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Take a large spray bottle and add ½ cup white vinegar
  2. Next, add ½ cup club soda or seltzer water
  3. Then add ½ cup non-toxic liquid soap such as Dr. Bronner’s
  4. Finally, add ¼ cup lemon juice (or a few drops of lemon essential oil) and shake

You now have a non-toxic car cleaner that you made all by yourself in about 5 minutes! You can spray this liberally on both the plastic parts of your car as well as the surface upholstery. For upholstery, you can use a cloth or scrub brush to clean. For the dash, etc., a cloth should suffice.

For bigger stains, add baking soda to the mix for extra scrubbing power. For windows, you can use pure vinegar.

Baking soda also works well when scrubbing grime off the exterior of your car. As for me, I might end up washing my car once this summer. The rest of the time, I’ll be enjoying the lemony scent of my new car cleaner without worrying about inhaling toxic chemicals.